Weathering the Winter Blues

 I set a goal for myself to write one blog each month. It’s important to me that I provide meaningful and helpful content on my website. For a while I was feeling inspired and usually surpassing my goal, cranking out at least two blogs per month…..and then November hit.

Weeks turned into a months and I kept telling myself I really needed to write a new blog, but every time I sat down to do it, I would just stare at the screen for 45 minutes unable to even select a topic. I wasn’t feeling as excited and inspired as I usually do. And then I would beat myself up for not being consistent, which would lead to a whole reel of negative self-talk. Then I’d give up, shut my computer, and do it all again a week later. Whew.

I found myself stuck in this cycle for a while, so I decided to talk to some friends about how I was feeling and how winter sucks sometimes. And they said, “well why don’t you just write about that?” Ha, so here we are!

Winter can be a tough time for many people. Feelings of sadness, low energy, apathy, and a desire to hibernate away from the world are common. I see this as part of the normal and natural rhythm of life and I’m hesitant to ever pathologize this experience. If we really look at the realities of winter, it seems completely understandable that our bodies and brains would respond this way. We are getting a lot less sunlight in the winter, it’s cold, sometimes wet, the holidays (while also bringing great things) are draining, financial strains often increase, we are stuck inside a lot, it’s dark by the time many of us get off work, and the list could go on.

Many of us are tempted to shame ourselves for not feeling or doing our best during this season, but that really only adds suffering to an already difficult season. So, I’d like to share some ways that we can weather the winter season with a little more ease.

 

Practicing Acceptance and Gentleness

Like most things, it all starts with acceptance and embracing this part of the rhythm of life. Instead of shaming or finger-wagging at ourselves, we can give ourselves permission to slow down in the winter. We don’t have to expect ourselves to function the same way in winter as we do in spring and summer. In fact, it’s kind of silly that we do, given how different our environment is. All the rest of nature follows this rhythm without judgment, and are we not also a part of nature? It’s okay if we hibernate a little more or find ourselves being less productive. We might even find purpose in this slowing down. We can choose to be gentle with ourselves, trusting that as we lean into the rhythm, spring will soon come with renewed energy, motivation, and promise.

 

Finding That Which Soothes

Have you ever taken that first spoon full of soup on a cold winter day and felt your actual soul warming? There’s something about a warm cup of coffee/tea or a bowl of soup that takes the bite out of winter. Find ways to incorporate more of these in your day to day life. Find new soup recipes or tea blends to try. Find a favorite sweater or fuzzy blanket to wrap yourself in when you get home (you might even add in fuzzy socks for good measure). Maybe try soaking in a hot bath. Find whatever is soothing and warming to you, and be intentional about incorporating it.

 

Adding Light to the Darkness

As you know, we get a lot less light during the winter, which has a huge impact on our mood and energy. So, you might sit by a window and soak in the sunshine on the sunny days. You could bring in soothing, warm light from candles or perhaps light a fire in the fireplace. You could also look into lighting that mimics outdoor light, like full spectrum bulbs or light box therapy.

Creating Purpose in the Slow Down

Your body is using more energy to keep you warm during this time of year, so you’ll likely feel less energized. As you feel your body’s natural rhythm begin to slow, find ways that you can use this time intentionally. You might spend more time reflecting and journaling. You might move your exercise routine into something more smooth and gentle—like yoga. You could also use this time to tap into your creative side a little more, with art and crafts. Instead of resenting what our bodies are doing, we can join with the rhythm and use it to find new purpose.

 

Appreciating Nature in the Winter

Nature looks very different in the winter, but it also has it’s own type of beauty during this time. When you’re getting a case of cabin fever, you might bundle up really well and take a nice winter hike. Breathe in the fresh, cool air and notice how it feels. Admire and reflect on the wonder of the natural cycle of nature’s seasons, which play out year after year, showing up for their appointed time and willing to move on after they have served their purpose. What might you learn from nature?

You might also engage in a sport or activity that nature makes possible during this time, like skiing, sledding, winter gardening, etc.

 

Maintaining Connection

As we hibernate more than usual, we might find that we are starting to feel a little too disconnected from the world around us. Try to carve out intentional time to connect with friends and family. Find a safe person to talk to about your sadness or struggle with the winter blues. Create opportunities to support and be supported through this season.

 

I hope that this blog gives you some ideas for leaning into the rhythm of nature and easing those winter blues. I’d love to hear your ideas!